World Food Prize winner speaks at DMACC

Dr. Bram Govaerts of Belgium spoke at the Building 6 auditorium Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Dr. Bram Govaerts of Belgium spoke at the Building 6 auditorium Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The third annual World Food Prize winner for field research, Dr. Bram Govaerts, spoke at DMACC on October 15 to a captivated crowd.

Dr. Govaerts was selected on September 18 as this year’s recipient of the “Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.”

The award honors agricultural leaders under the age of 40.

Dr. Govaerts, originally from Belgium, currently stationed in Mexico for his research, spoke passionately about his hopes for the future of farming and agriculture, not only for Mexico, but for the world.

Govaerts, 35, is Associate Director of the Global Conservation Agricultural Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.

Building on Dr. Borlaug’s credo, “Take it to the Farmer,” Dr. Govaerts is being recognized for his vision to improve the production of maize and wheat for poor farmers on their existing farmland.

He has also been key in creation of the Mexican governments Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro), assuming control of the program in June of 2014.

“It’s about taking it to the farmer. It’s about making the scientist more farmer, and the farmer more scientist.” Govaerts continues, “It’s about providing more for less; combining the right seed, at the right time, with the right quantity.”

Dr. Govaerts went on to show examples of the research currently being done in Mexico: A picture of a maize field standing close to ten feet tall draws applause from the audience.

“If you don’t fall in love with that maize there, then there’s something wrong with you,” Govaerts jokes.

Research has shown a 25 percent increase in yield in many of the test fields; other noted improvements in the system were: 43 percent reduced machinery, 68 percent saving of soil, 60 percent less water, and 56 percent less nitrogen. All large increases in productivity.

The award of $10,000 dollars, to be used in furthering Dr. Govaerts’ research, was endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation and will help further the dream of feeding 9 million people by the year 2050.

Dr. Govaerts discussed the importance of improved integration of new technology to the average farmer. He compares a 6-year-old driving a Ferrari on a gravel road to the consequence of not properly training people to use the new systems.

“We are celebrating 100 years of Norman Borlaug, and you are a room full of potential Norms; you can do something different for the world.”

Dr. Govaerts closed with, “The best recognition of Dr. Borlaug’s legacy is to be conscious, and shout out that farming is the future.”

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